Customizable Smart Implant Monitors Spinal Healing

The implantable devices can be 3D printed for a customized fit, and contain sensors that track healing.

Spinal Fusion Implant

After spinal fusion surgery, patients typically receive spinal fusion cages to support the area during healing. However, these devices are one-size-fits-all solutions that don’t guarantee a proper fit. According to a recent Medgadget article, a team of engineers at the University of Pittsburgh aimed to improve the healing process after a spinal fusion operation.

They created a self-powered implant that tracks the healing process, while also providing mechanical support. The device can even be 3D printed for an improved fit, and adjusted for particular uses. The implant contains a triboelectric nanogenerator that creates electricity when compressed by the spine. This triggers an on-board sensor that measures pressure, which indicates spinal healing. The concept has been tested in human cadavers, and the team will move to animal studies soon.